Report: Blue Jackets spoke to Babcock, Laviolette about coaching job
The Columbus Blue Jackets have spoken to veteran free-agent bench bosses Mike Babcock and Peter Laviolette about their head coaching vacancy, reports The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.
The club also reportedly interviewed Pascal Vincent, who served as the team's associate coach the last two seasons under Brad Larsen before the latter was fired in April.
Babcock hasn't coached in the NHL since the Toronto Maple Leafs fired him in November 2019. Since his departure, he's taken volunteer gigs as an advisor for the University of Vermont's hockey program and as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan's hockey team. He said last summer that he was "retired" from coaching.
The 60-year-old ranks 12th all time on the NHL's head coaching wins list with 700 career victories. He spent two years with the Anaheim Ducks, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003. He then led the Detroit Red Wings for 10 campaigns, winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 and making another Cup final appearance a year later. He joined the Leafs in 2015 and coached them for parts of five seasons, making three playoff appearances.
Babcock was highly successful on the international stage, coaching Team Canada to Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 and a World Cup of Hockey title in 2016.
However, he also came under fire shortly after his tenure with the Leafs for his treatment of players. When Mitch Marner was a rookie, Babcock made him rank his teammates based on work ethic and then shared the list with the team. Former Red Wings forward Johan Franzen called Babcock "the worst person I have ever met."
Laviolette, meanwhile, coached the Washington Capitals for the last three seasons, making playoff appearances in each of his first two years with the club. He ranks eighth on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list with 752 victories and is the winningest American head coach in league history.
The 58-year-old won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and made two more Cup final appearances with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and the Nashville Predators in 2017.
The Blue Jackets were hampered by injuries last season and finished with the league's second-worst record at 25-48-9. However, they have ample star power with Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine, and Zach Werenski, and they hold the third pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.